2017-05-17 / Front Page

Massapequa School Board president shuts down meeting amid controversy over 6th grade move

Trustee Tim Taylor speaks to angry residents at school board meeting last night.Trustee Tim Taylor speaks to angry residents at school board meeting last night.By Michael Scro

Emotions ran high at a Massapequa School Board meeting last night that ended abruptly with school board president Maryann Fisher shutting it down and going into executive session.

 It was the first meeting following the election of the school board’s newest Trustee—Brian Butler—who campaigned on a promise to scrap the district’s plan to move the 6th grade students to the Middle School.

Most at the meeting were there to support the move.

“I fear the direction this district is headed because there is a voice in this community that is not being heard, and it belongs to hundreds of parents who may not have been for the move at first, but have seen all that has been done and are now ready to move forward," resident and parent Rose Stein said.  "We are lucky and proud to have Mrs. Iconis with us - her passion is leading our district in the right direction."

Waiting until the speakers finished, Trustee Tim Taylor, who is also opposed to the re-configuration, gave a statement, which was often interrupted by verbal outbursts from those in attendance.  

Parents of students who spoke shared stories of how Superintendent of Schools Lucille Iconis personally helped their children in various ways. They applauded her efforts to re-introduce the re-configuration plan after the board defeated it in 2014.

Some speakers pleaded with board members to address the growing division among the district community on the re-configuration, specifically on social media platforms, asking them to take steps to put a stop to it.

In his statement, Taylor asked the audience how many of them have children who will be directly effected by the re-configuration, and then how many of them regularly attend school board meetings; both questions drew an outraged response from many.

 

"We have 10 or 15 people that come out to our board meetings, and we just had an election where a gentleman (Butler) who ran on a platform of being opposed to the move, won," Taylor said.  "If a majority of people want this move squashed, as a board member I have to take that into consideration."

Taylor's statement lasted for three minutes. He was both jeered and cheered.

Prior to the public comment section of the meeting, Fisher cautioned that the meeting would only proceed with respect and proper decorum and she tried to reinforce that after some residents began shouting out while Taylor spoke.

Once he is seated, Butler said he would work to put the question put up to another vote and to rescind the re-configuration plan; and if he can't do that, he said, he would put forth a new resolution moving the sixth grade back from Berner to the elementary schools.

He pointed to a 3,000-name petition submitted to the school board last year opposing the move.

Adding to the controversy is an appeal to the Commissioner of Education filed by five residents/parents who called the district’s decision on the 6th grad move, “arbitrary and capricious” and alleging that the decision was made without sufficient research and study. They Commissioner’s decision is pending.

The next Massapequa School Board meeting is June 1, 8 p.m.

Watch for more on this story in upcoming print edition of the Massapequa Post.

 

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